Willmott Dixon’s retrofit of a 1920s era suburban home is set to highlight how residents living in older homes could save over £850 per year in running costs.
The company’s Energy Services team has completed a pilot retrofit project on a semi-detached home in Letchworth to illustrate how a series of straightforward measures can improve comfort and cut fuel bills without compromising the look of the home. The collaboration with Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, which owns the home, and the Building Research Establishment, is a blueprint for demonstrating how it’s possible to take hundreds of thousands of people living in older homes out of fuel poverty, where over 10 per cent of household income is spent on energy.
During the past three months, Willmott Dixon has delivered a series of improvements that include better insulation in the walls and loft, fitting solar panels, introducing a waste water heat recovery system as well as installing LED lights and smart metering. The improved ventilation will provide more fresh air and remove moisture build-up, therefore reducing the risk of mould and a number of health issues.
The use of smart controls will allow residents to manage energy use more efficiently, with settings adjusted remotely via a smart phone; the new technologies have been installed without compromising the historical appearance of the building.
The home will now be monitored for 12 months by the BRE to check the difference in energy use. The findings will have implications for homeowners and landlords across the country, creating a blueprint for improving the performance and comfort of the millions of older homes in the UK.
Willmott Dixon’s Energy Service team are currently working to upgrade thousands of older homes in cities like Oxford, Hull and Bristol. Managing director Rob Lambe said: “We want to demonstrate how sympathetic low energy retrofits can really improve lives. With a significant proportion of people living in older properties, we need solutions that help people keep warm and save energy. With so much of our housing built before 1940, we also wanted to show that you can apply energy efficiency measures to heritage buildings, bringing them up to modern standards of comfort and efficiency, while conserving their period charm.”
David Ames, Head of Heritage and Strategic Planning for the Heritage Foundation said: “As the world’s first garden city, Letchworth has a unique heritage which is important to protect. While some of the early garden city homes are of historical value, we are determined to learn more about how to make them more energy efficient. Our priority has been to focus on maximising the performance of the building fabric itself and taking a holistic view of the impact of the changes. We are looking forward to finding out more about the results of the pilot and demonstrating to others what can be achieved.”
BRE project manager Steven Stenlund said: “The aim of this project has been to adopt a local approach to refurbishment, to create expertise within the community for tackling the hard to treat properties with best practice interventions that are sympathetic to the buildings and beneficial to the occupants. This will be a home that everyone in the city will want to replicate, and the project has benefited from the combined expertise of the partners. This can be a template for other towns and cities to follow.”